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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, May 26, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 14:23–29

Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

”I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. (NRSV)

Turn on the television, check the news app headlines, and you will likely encounter a world in unrest. It doesn’t take much to find evidence of how unpeaceful our world can be. Add to that the feeling of being alone as we struggle through that distress. The disciples knew this feeling too. With Jesus’ trial and execution looming, Jesus was slipping away from them. How would they cope with his absence?

In this passage Jesus comforts those around him by reminding them of his peace. The word peace in our society often refers to the mere absence of open and violent conflict. In Jesus’ own time, peace came through the Pax Romana supported by the military conquest of Caesar Augustus. This was peace bought at the price of the sword. In our own time, we tend to associate peace with our own sense of personal protection and safety, whether physical or psychological.

But Jesus brings a unique peace that combines both the public and personal. The peace of Jesus is neither solely about physical safety nor a feeling of inner exuberance. It is about calm in the midst of life’s vicissitudes. Ahead of his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus tells his disciples that the Holy Spirit will ensure this peace by being a paracletos. This Greek word means “called alongside.” Jesus promises that through the Spirit he will never abandon us. Our redeemer will journey alongside us, pointing out goodness and joy in the midst of life’s storms and distress.

From a world that is disruptive and unsettling, we cry out to you for peace, O God. Grant us your Spirit, to come alongside us in our distress and point us toward the deep, abiding peace that you bring. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Minister for Evangelism

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